Amazon workers condemn lack of emergency training after tornado kills six at Illinois distribution centre

Employees want drills for severe weather in addition to fires

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 31 December 2021 12:28
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Deaths confirmed in collapsed Amazon warehouse in Illinois after severe weather
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Following the collapse of an Amazon warehouse killing six workers during a tornado on Friday in Edwardsville, Illinois, an employee has called out the company for an alleged lack of emergency training.

Posting on an internal message board, the employee at a facility in neighbouring Indiana, wrote: “I know it’s the weekend and Amazon was busy blasting Michael Strahan and other wealthy people into space but can we get any kind of statement about the ‘mass casualty incident’ in Illinois?

“I feel something could be said or a plan of action to review tornado and [severe] weather safety could be announced,” adding that “we had tornado touchdowns not far” from the Amazon fulfillment centre in Jacksonville, Indiana.

The complaint, one of several posted internally, was shared with The Intercept.

Several Amazon employees told the publication that they have never been involved in safety drills for events such as severe weather or fires, despite having worked at the company for years.

The Independent has asked Amazon for comment. A spokesperson told The Intercept: “Emergency response training is provided to new employees and that training is reinforced throughout the year.”

However, an apparent lack of drills relating specifically to severe weather events has become a major point of contention for employees.

“Curious as to why we don’t have tornado drills like we do fire drills?” wrote an employee in Indiana.

“I have been here six and a half years and have never once been involved in a tornado safety drill on my shift, as well as have not taken part in a fire safety drill in about two years,” said another.

“This whole situation has got me thinking our site really needs to revise its safety drills because you never know when disaster and tragedy can strike.”

Official government guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that “workers need to be trained and plans need to be practiced to ensure that personnel are familiar with what to do in the event of a tornado”.

OSHA has opened an investigation into the Edwardsville warehouse collapse, CNBC reported on Monday.

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